Monday, 16 August 2010

Sexy? Who, Me?

I'm in my late forties, frankly obese and would not describe myself as sexy.  But after dancing three different pieces on different occasions, I've been told by two complete strangers and one friend how sexy I've looked when dancing.  Sexy?  Who, me?  You're kidding, right?  No, they were being warm and complimentary, saying how much they had enjoyed my dancing.  I felt flattered and very pleased to have entertained them.

One of the strangers then went on to express her surprise, as at first sight, she wondered what I was doing coming onto the stage to do a solo – someone that fat can’t dance, surely?  So she had been very pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed my dancing so much.

This back-handed compliment left me with conflicting emotions and something to think about.  I was fleetingly irritated by the unthinking insult, but glad to have opened her eyes to the misconception that belly dance is only for slender young things, showing a lot of flesh and wiggling their hips.  I’d like to think that other rounded, older women in the audience might think, ‘I’d love to do that, that could be me’, start taking classes and get a whole new interest in their lives.

On the other hand, I felt uncomfortable about being thought sexy, when I was not intending to portray that.  Given the ongoing debate about belly dance and burlesque, and the efforts to separate belly dance from connotations of sex, was I coming across the wrong way?

My friend put me straight.  It’s the fine line between ‘sensual’ and ‘sexy’ which is in play here.  I am an unashamedly sensual person and it’s apparent when I dance that I am caught by the music, lost in the movement.  This engenders a fascination for those watching; there is something compelling about someone dancing, present in the moment, projecting strength and confidence.  The glitter and swirl of the costume with the dancer’s movements may have a mesmerising effect, but ‘sexy’ is in the eye of the beholder.

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